The Need for Transparency

President Bush has rallied his troops for what he calls “The first warof the 21st century”. What is your view of this crisis, where, briefly, do you stand? This is the question we are putting to people around the world, especially those with their own public reputation and following. Our aim, to help create a truly global debate all can identify with.
Alexander Rondeli
6 February 2003

Of course, it is sad to begin a new century with a war. Here, in Georgia, we have mixed feelings regarding the political developments around us, as Georgia has only recently become a member of the international community and our society does not have sufficient experience to judge the currents and undercurrents of international behavior.

When Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait in 1990 the picture was clear, without any ambiguity. Assessing the event, we sided with a small and victimised nation. Even now, when we try to judge the present confrontation, we see Saddam’s Iraq in dark colours, stemming from our own, very negative experience of being a small nation under constant pressure from a giant neighbour - Russia.

Saddam is a monster and common sense dictates that if there were fewer such leaders, the world would become safer as a result.

Still, it is a horrifying responsibility to start any war, especially when it is hard to predict all its consequences, whether humanitarian, political or cultural.

But if the decision is made that Saddam should be eliminated from the political screen of the world, this goal should be based on normative imperatives and not on the national interests of any particular country. Moreover, the justification for the decision should be transparent to the international community. If it is clarified, it can be supported.

It is understandable that, in a world of competing norms and values, unilateral punitive measures against the leader of a state should be a matter of bitter and emotional controversy. But is there another way to get rid of the unacceptable?

© Alexander Rondeli 2003

Originally published as part of a debate on 6th February 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. II

See also Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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